A little over a year ago, I signed up for my first formal meditation course through the city. It was my first experience outside of reading countless texts about meditation and doing my best on my own and with meditation CDs, but it was only a 2 hour course and the end of the class left me wanting more. I wasn’t sure where to go from there, so I continued to read more books on the subject and work on it on my own when time allowed, but it’s not easy to find quiet meditation time in a home with a 3 or 4 year old boy. My “practice” was not happening as frequently as I’d liked.
Then, obviously, I had some other things on my plate, with a pregnancy that left me exhaused, nauseated and not interested in anything but sleep.
Now that Sophie has joined us, I resumed my search for some place that could provide me with more direction and first-hand knowledge from a yogi and not simply from print on a page. I found a place online that is right here in the city and didn’t look as daunting and full of the unknown as some of the other meditation places I’d seen on websites.
I signed right up, and a few weeks ago I went to my first Sunday night class.
The second my instructor opened her mouth, I thought it was exactly as I would have chosen for my first experience in the yoga meditation arena. I would seriously pay money just to hear her speak. She is so soothing and welcoming and wonderful!
I’m a few weeks in, now, and my meditations are already deepening, along with my understanding of pranayama (breath work), what meditation is all about, and how to incorporate it in to my own life. All of this led me to seek out a mala, or Tibetan prayer beads. They really just help focus the mind and give you something to do with your fingers while you recite your mantra of choice or do your breathing exercises.
I ended up at a Tibetan store not far from home and when I walked in the door, I was surprised to see a tiny little Tibetan woman in full robe attire and smiling broadly. I said “hi” and quickly walked past to begin my search for my mala.
She ended up joining me, and sort of took over the hunt for me, navigating me through the malas made from lotus seeds, ones made of sandalwood, which she held to my nose saying “Smell! It’s nice, yes?” Her English was quite limited and she said she’d have someone else help me, but I felt drawn to her and I told her to stay, assuring her that I trusted her judgement and I could understand her just fine.
She finally picked up a beautiful pink mala and told me it was made from real stones and was similar to one of her own. She told me, as she struggled with the words to share her story, that she had lost hers a few months ago at a bus stop. She was broken hearted as the mala was made from stones and turquoise from her mom. She motioned with her hand to her face as she said “I cried and cried” and traced the tears that would have fallen down her cheeks. She told me that she’d tried to make a sign for the bus stop but can’t write well in English and was sure that no one would understand what she was trying to convey. Then a man came along and asked how he could help and he, in her words “made a big, beautiful sign for her that said ‘Tibetan nun lost prayer beads'”. One month later, someone called her and returned her beads. Beads, not only from her mother, but ones she’s used since she became a nun, at the age of 12. I was so taken with this tiny little woman that I had to refrain from hugging her on the spot. My understanding is that you are really not supposed to ever actually touch a Tibetan monk or nun, so I just smiled and told her I’d take the mala that she chose for me.
She walked to another display and picked out a beautiful, hand-stitched bag for me and dropped the mala inside of it, telling me that she’d give the bag to me to keep for free. I smiled again, and nodded a thank you as she reached in to the bag, drew out the mala again and bowed her head as she recited something too quietly for me to hear. Then she handed me the bag without saying a word. I inquired as to what that had meant and she said “I prayed 8 beads with a prayer for you. You pray the other 100 and whatever you need will come to you in abundance.” I actually teared up. It was such a beautiful and unexpected moment in time. I left the store reflecting on my luck at having interacted with her, and knowing that after the kids were in bed that night, I’d pray that other 100 beads and part of my request for good things would be directed right back at her.